Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Awesome board meeting!

Hurrah! I am so thrilled! We have a new Internal Staff Auditor AND the board showed some backbone and read out a formal censure against Zepora's bad behavior a couple of weeks ago when she threatened Channel 46 CBS reporter Wendy Saltzman.

The board presented themselves more professionally than ever before. In fact, Jay started off the meeting by stating that he had never felt such cooperative working with this board ever.

Anyway, back to the auditor. They have hired a real pro. (This - on top of Dan Drake's capable data collection is very hopeful for the future.) His name is Gary Babst and he has 22 years of experience as an internal business auditor, having worked for GM in Detroit. He presented his 100 day plan which I will bullet-point below:

  • Build internal controls structure
  • Create efficient, effective business processes
  • Benchmark with other area school systems
  • Implement a fraud hotline
  • Implement an ethics program
  • Identify the "audit universe" and high risks for the system
  • Engender a strong tone at the top
  • Encourage management to create a sense of urgency and lead by example
  • Create clear goals and objectives as well as metrics to measure progress
  • Ensure high impact and high visibility for audits
  • Demonstrate that "we're looking after the taxpayers money"

Bowen followed that by reading a prepared public statement admonishing Zepora's behavior saying that it was "unbecoming a member of the board of education and a bad example for students". Amazing.

Then - there was an action item requesting that staff review all RFPs submitted by search firms to conduct the search for a new superintendent, and then cull the RFPs to 3-5 for the board to review. Staff listed as in charge of the process included Alice Thompson, Euladia Taylor, Myra Burden and legal counsel. (excuse the spellings)

That's when Womack piped up, "This is not a staff function. The board is perfectly capable of doing this job. It's our job, not staff's. That's laughable." To which Walker chirped, "I'm proud to say for all to hear that Mr. Womack has spoken for me today". Which got a big laugh, followed by Jay's trifecta non-endorsement. The motion failed. The board will review every RFP that is submitted.

Also, apparently, the document answering SACS questions is in solid draft form. Ms. Tyson was granted permission to create the final document and submit it to SACS by the deadline, September 11.

One concern I had (I actually felt bad) was when the principal of the International Community (a charter) School said he skipped his weekly dance lesson with his wife to address the board and request to be allowed to use Hooper Alexander or some other worthy building for his school. ICS is currently housed in two separate places, seven miles apart. I thought it was sad that he had to publicly ask for this and endure the horrible bonk, bonk, bonk at his three-minute mark. ICS is doing a fantastic job and should be supported in every way -- without needing to ask. The board should be asking "how can WE help YOU?" Give them a building, please. They've more than proven themselves worthy. Read about it here.

At any rate, I'm happy to be able to forgo having to use some version of "The Scream" for this board meeting report. Instead, I chose to use the Kirby Victory Dance, as I'm actually quite impressed with how Ms. Tyson has steadily steered this bobbing ship through very rough waters so far. She may not have done everything "right", (most bloggers here agree that Dr. Beasley has not been the best choice for leading teachers) but she does bring a level of solid reliability, trust and capability that reassures us that the system is heading in a much better direction.

That said, reality still reared it's ugly head and reminded us that teachers still suffer low morale and copiers seem to be breaking all over the system.  Mr. Turk happily reported that we've saved a bunch of money by closing the in-house print shop, but Redovian and Walker both raised suspicions that the costs have been transferred to teachers. (In fact, one of the public speakers pleaded for a working copier for Henderson MS, citing the fact that teachers had to go to Kinkos and pay from their own pockets to copy tests for students.)  Two issues here according to Tyson: The in-house copiers and the copy shop that used to print brochures, etc.

Also, it's kind of funny to hear Jay acting "disappointed" that we are having to go out and hire teachers this late into the year. (Tyson pointed out that these are new needs due to enrollment balancing.)  This happens every single year at Lakeside and Jay never once cared.  Now that it's affecting Arabia (well, sort of, they had to create an "annex" at Lithonia), he suddenly sees the problem!

Moseley is putting two buildings up for use - Heritage and Hooper.  Womack stated that he could use Heritage for over-crowding at Oak Grove and Sagamore. (K-2) could move to Heritage.  He's not sure that the community would want to do that. As a guess, I would imagine folks wouldn't want this, since many parents have at least two children in ES, and that would require dealing with two different schools and activities schedules.  Personally - I wish they'd sell it to the county and make it all a nice park once and for all.  Heritage is tiny.  (I stress again, that Hooper should serve as a great building for ICS. I can't think of anyone who needs it more.)  But Zepora doesn't want to hand over properties to charter schools -- we might need it!  Sarah just rambled on some kind of statement that she agreed with Zepora - "this is very serious to give away a million dollar school".

Happily, the board is now questioning how much money we are spending on "programs". Don heavily questioned Dr. Watkins on his request for another $120,000 for yet another Title 1 "program" to implement small learning communities. He read from the proposal and it sounded like a bunch of gobbleygook. Dr. Speaks questioned him further and we find that we've been throwing money at this program since 2004, and apparently have tons of data, but nothing has improved at these schools. Sarah so often comes SO close to asking just the right question and she did so here. She almost asked - is this working or are we just throwing money down the drain? And perhaps -- just perhaps -- we could spend that money on support that is a little closer to the student (as we used to do with Title 1, before the big corporations found out there was big money to be made?) We found out that this could just be money that circles the drain, funding a team of administrators like Dr. Watkins who says he takes in the annual evaluations and shares them with the principal to implement plans for the future. Plans that apparently yield little results.

Ms. Tyson got it though. She knows she needs to dig deeper into this kind of spending to find out if we are getting our money's worth and if we should in fact, drop a program or two when they continue to not show results. And as Dr. Walker pointed out, apparently we're just not privy to how this data is being used. Perhaps some detailed reporting is in order. What's that old definition of insanity?

Overall, I'm just very pleased to see them roll up their sleeves and have lengthy, deeper discussions about education. This is really, the first meeting I've ever witnessed much real work getting done. They were honest, forthright, thoughtful and respectful to each other. I really do think it has to do with Ms. Tyson's solid leadership.


Anonymous said...

Zepora might not have a choice. If a charter school wants it and it is vacant, they can take DCSS to court and claim it.

Anonymous said...

I'm very glad to know that the Board members demonstrated professional decorum during their most recent meeting.

Having said that, I still look forward to seeing ALL of the incumbents defeated in the next election.

They need to go...Stat!

Anonymous said...

POWER STANDARDS, is that a Beasley creation to DCSS?

Did they mention undue paperwork?

Did they address teachers?

Do teachers want more furlough days.

Anonymous said...

Word is that there is a censure coming for Sara Copelin-Woods after her behavior at the called meeting a few weeks ago. Though obviously few saw it, she definitely violated SACs policy and the Board has to admonish her.

Anonymous said...

I think the BOE feels like their reelection is slipping through their hands. What worries me is that as soon as the election is over, it's back to business as usual. Call me cynical, it's hard to trust a BOE and leadership who continue to hide things from public view!

Having said that, it's nice to see a censure for Zepora's abhorrent behavior. My sons were happy when I told them to listen to the admonishment. I told them this was like them getting study hall or detention for adults. My son asked me how she could get away with a threat, when he would be suspended, pending a review. This provided an educational opportunity for me and my wife.

Mr. Bass sounds impressive, can he fire Ramsey and who does he report to? I'm also glad the board voted down the RFP's being reviewed by staff. Dr. Thompson is not capable of providing any review of any RFP, unless of course it benefits her.

I think if I was a friend or family hire, I would start looking for another job. Seems to me Mr. Bass will be looking very closely at these folks and I welcome that!

I could not watch the entire meeting tonight, but I look forward to the replay on Philandrea's PDS-24.

By the way the new dais at the Palace looks very silly! I hate the way the board members look down on the "common folk". I also find it very uncomfortable that we only see their necks and heads. Maybe Philandrea and get some higher camera platforms, so we can look down on the board!

Love the happy dance CERE!

Cerebration said...

I agree about the board's high and mighty placement. When the attorney walked up to speak directly to Ms. Tyson, I couldn't help thinking how she looked like she was asking the Wizard for a brain.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Lakeside is currently planning for its faculty and staff to park at Heritage once construction begins at LHS. They will be screwed if Heritage reopens for business!

Cerebration said...

That's funny. There are only 40 parking spots there. Whoopee...

Anonymous teacher said...

Just because the Board can act professionally under the threat of SACS investigating the system, should not let us forget their deplorable conduct and lack of insight into what's needed in DCSS during the past few years. Remember that they were Dr. Lewis's direct-report.

They're under fire from several directions now, but without a change in personnel and policies, there's no reason to think that things will improve in the long run. Great if new policies are developed: but whose input will be requested in doing so? In this last go-round about the 4 new policies, DCSS teachers were given one weekend to provide input.

School systems that work, do so because teachers have a strong voice. Low morale? That's an understatement. The technology doesn't work--ask about the Promethean boards and computers at your kids' schools--the classrooms are ridiculously overcrowded, textbooks are often absent, and we teachers are using more and more of our own money for basic supplies. Beasley hasn't asked for teacher input and seems to live in a dream world--his "multiple intelligences" approach is old-school, and despite having every child evaluated for learning style at the start of the year, no use was made of this non-information.

Parents, you are the only source of reform in DCSS! Continue to fight for a quality education for your children, and don't keep these opportunistic bumblers in their positions!

Cerebration said...

Oh, I may be complimentary of their behavior tonight - but rest assured, I still think we need to clean the slate.

Anonymous said...

School systems that work, do so because teachers have a strong voice

Could you give me an example of where this is true? Actually, what I mean is where is there a large school system that is working?

Gwinnett seems to on paper, but I can assure you the teachers have no voice there. Plus I think they doctor their data, though I can't prove it.

Anonymous said...

So what exactly is Zepora's punishment?

Anonymous said...

"before the big corporations found out there was big money to be made."

You summed up the whole problem, right here.
Follow the money
Follow the money

Who is making money on all this school "reform"?
Think about it.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Tyson has said going forward there will be at least 30 days for input on new/changed/edited policies.

The rush on these was because of the SACs deadline.

Anonymous said...

A couple of things about ZR. The punishment is of course that she was reprimanded for everyone to see and that she had no support on the Board. (I heard SCW missed the meeting though.)

I also think that her children's upward careers in DeKalb are over, regardless of whether she is reelected or not. And I think this is a significant punishment for her/to her.

No Duh said...

New Director of Internal Audits is Gary Babst (thought they said Bass, too). Great energy. Recommended a Fraud Hotline right off the bat. Said just the threat of a Hotline can keep fraud at bay. Of course, he comes from a corporation where the internal investigators actually care when people are ripping off employees.

It was not clear to whom Mr. Babst reports. Also not clear how his position will work with investigative affairs. Hope someone will have a sit down with Mr. Babst to give him the 411 he needs to be politically persuasive.

He was adamant that the public needs to see action. Indirect quote: We need to demonstrate to the public that we are looking after their money. Wants to make an impact within his first 100 days on the job. Already has a slogan/mission/charge: "High Impact/High Visibility"

You could see the staff squirming.

Anonymous said...

You have GOT to be kidding!! I was in and out and of course missed parts, but when I walked in on that autidor's presentation, "real pro" was the LAST impression I had. He had three minutes to make his presentation and it seems to me that all he did was repeat the same canned comments. If we are going to pay him to meet with each and every board member, I hope he is more efficient with how he uses his high-cost billable time. obviously, his message was spot on - but it was anything BUT efficient or original, IMO. But before I rail any further, I will pause to read your full report (thank you SO MUCH! and comments.
what a LONG meeting - I somehow missed that the SACS response had been moved up, so I watched a bunch of meandering conversation about "most responsive and most responsible" bidder, closed bids, lowest bidder, RFP vs RFQs, etc etc ad nauseum!

Anonymous said...

"Exactly, the rush for the policy review was because of SACS."

However I would like to remind everyone here, Ms. Tyson gave her presentation, regarding the policy changes and the first review of 4 on August 9th or 10th, at the last full blown monthly meeting.

But for some reason she didn't ask for parent or teacher input until the weekend before the review was due, August 30th, one week ago. I guarantee you DCSS leadership saw the article on the front page of the DeKalb Neighbor, talking about the Decatur Schools and them asking for stakeholder input on their 5 year forward looking plan, months in advance.

I bet you someone saw this on Wednesday, August 25th, when the paper comes out and the leadership asked Ms. Tyson, if she had asked for stakeholder input on the 4 policies. I guarantee you that's why they rushed to get out her letter on Thursday afternoon, August 26th, asking for input by Saturday, August 28th at Midnight.

Can you imagine how nice it would have been if Ms. Tyson had asked for public input on August 10th, with a deadline of August 28th at midnight?

This administration is way too reactive instead of proactive and that's why Tyson, Turk, Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Ramsey, Beasley and the rest need to be shown the door!

Anonymous said...

I think the internal auditor has his work cut out for him, but he doesn't report to Ramsey but rather the board directly and the superintendent indirectly.

I am certain that the staff was squirming tonight. Between this hiring, which they had to know was coming, and the BOE rejecting staff control of the RFP for superintendent, WOW!

The question for the auditor is where to start? The misuse of funds at the schoolhouse level or at the central office, or both.

100 days -- should be fun.

Anonymous said...

It will be great to see the staff squirm for once! Just wait until the trial begins.

One thing for sure, Mr. Babst needs to keep his eyes on Beasley, Moseley, Thompson and Ramsey.

Those folks I do not trust!

No Duh said...

Also, Beasley is trying to get the BOE to spend $120,000 more money for a specific America's Choice math initiative at Miller Grove HS (apparently all the other high schools were offered the same, but said "thanks, but no thanks").

From reading the Scope of Work from America's Choice (if I'm reading it right), Miller Grove will spend all that money for essentially access to a database, two or three sets of teaching materials for approximately five employees each and 15 days of training for the same employees.

The contract looks (on the surface) like attendance at the Annual America's Choice Conference (the Hollywood trip last year) is included in the $120,000. But, upon closer reading, it is clear cost for the Conference is in addition to the contract price. AND, the client (Miller Grove) MUST purchase all students materials in order for the program to work. SO, what's the cost of that???

Womack told Beasley he was hearing that America's Choice wasn't the best thing going and that he wanted to see statistics to prove our investment was working.

The following sentence is in the Summary section of the Board Item "Purchase of America's Choice Program for the 2010-2011 School Year":

"The schools implementing this model have experienced a heightened level of accountability and monitoring at the student, teacher and administrative levels." If that isn't the biggest load of BS I've ever seen, I don't know what is...in other words, the schools have more paperwork!!

America's Choice is laughing all the way to the bank.

Anonymous said...

If Mr. Babst can clean up some of the problems we are having, I really don't care if he is a good public speaker.

No Duh said...

oops, meant to say "when employees are ripping off the company."

Anonymous said...

Just say no to America's Choice! We don't need this program.

No Duh said...

Copelin-Wood on the issue of empty schools kept saying we need these schools for "our students."

Shocker! Charter school students ARE "our students." They are public school students... When is she going to get the fact that facilities and opportunities should be equitable across all learning models in the public school sustem.

Anonymous said...

Welcome at last, Mr Babst. I just have a feeling you will be getting an earful.

Snakes out there, don't slither away too fast ... you may be called in to do some 'xplaining ... huddle together and get y'alls stories straight. Not to worry, Mr. Ramsey will help you.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Turk happily reported that we've saved a bunch of money by closing the in-house print shop, but Redovian and Walker both raised suspicions that the costs have been transferred to teachers. (In fact, one of the public speakers pleaded for a working copier for Henderson MS, citing the fact that teachers had to go to Kinkos and pay from their own pockets to copy tests for students.) Two issues here according to Tyson: The in-house copiers and the copy shop that used to print brochures, etc.

this is shameful...it is not thte responsibility of teachers to pay for copies that should be provided by DCSS. Another bad decision by Lewis/Pope and supported by the BOE.

You BOE members are so fired if not by electing new members then by SACS. They have allowed too much money to be allocated in areas that were unnecessary. This Palace could have been put onhold until renovations were completed at the most needed schools. Now we have more court cost than the district could afford and staff cuts that are affecting the day to day operations of the schools (hvac/custodians/printshop). Why don't they try cutting some of the real fat cats that aren't impacting the students/teachers like the postions mentioned above...just saying

Anonymous said...

I think it's only fair that we represent the true aspect of the Americas Choice/miller grove proposal! Due to the fact that they didn't have a principal at the time, they did not join the original group of 40 in selecting wether or not they wanted to opt-in with AC this year. As was stated!! The new principal polled and conferenced with his staff and they all decided to use components of AC in their school this year. Please tell me you all heard this? And if so- why not represent it fairly on this blog ? If not, make sure you have all info correct before presenting it.

Anonymous said...

I agree, awesome board meeting! Having studies some of the new candidates, I will stick to the incumbants. I think all of the board members have reently learned a lesson in checks & balances versus trust. Can;t take a chance right now with a new board who must go through the "learning curve". SACS is too important to my house value! Hello

Anonymous said...

Do you think Mr. Babst will have access to the audit that Clew hid a few years ago? He should just follow those recommendations.

Look out staff! The taxpayers have someone inside the Palace that represents them! The days of wine and roses are over!

If you are a frat brother, sorority sister, a friend of family or someone in a high place at the palace, your time on the gravy train is coming to an end!

Let's hope!

Anonymous said...

Oh stop it with the learning curve! You can't tell me that as soon as these 5 bozos get re-elected it will be back to business as usual.

Please! The BOE 5 need to go! I would rather have people with integrity, honesty and total concern about the students and how OUR money is spent wisely. Instead of those who voted to waste OUR money on Palaces and employees that enjoy working at 2 or 3 other jobs while on OUR payroll.

It's time for change! They had their chance and they blew it!

Anonymous said...

First of all, we are NOT under investigation by SACS. They asked us questions and Ms. Tyson has the answers going to them on Saturday. However, the two board members who acted childishly at the previous meetings, Zepora and Sarah have made it even more difficult to get past SACS with only the questions.

Zepora threatening a reporter is awful but Sarah dressing down a staff member is highly uncalled for by a BOE member, during an open meeting. That IS against SACS rules and that's why these women, along with the other 3 need to go!

it's time we get some adults on the BOE, even if it takes a few months to get them up to speed.

Anonymous said...

On the news last night, Tom Bowen was asked about the use of federal monies. These are not the Race to the Top Funds but rather this emergency federal education spending.

Bowen said that the money would go to teachers but how wasn't yet decided. Would it be in the reduction of furlough days or the return of their retirement money?

It is about 18 million dollars.

I wonder what teachers think?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anonymous 11:45 for putting out correct information regrding why Miller Grove is now getting AC! The explanation was there on live TV for everyone to see and hear. It is unfortunate that some bloggers knowingly put out incorrect information, hoping that it sticks.

If AC is soooo bad, why did 40 schools ask for the program? Everyone may not like all components of it but there must have something worthwhile for schools to request it for another year. As Mr. Womack said, we should have measures in place to determine if we are getting our bang for the buck. All we really have to go on now are the impressions from staffs that are using the program.

Anonymous said...

Here's some America's Choice new math and accountability!

$18,000,000 in federal funds divided by 6,000 teachers equals $3,000 more money per teacher!

I would prefer to give it as merit pay. $6,000 to the successful hard working teachers and $0 to the self proclaiming "Read my book about proper nutrition" principals, but then who cares?

Anon 12:11,
Incumbents to save your house value?
You must live in a palace on Mountain Industrial! Get Real!
Show them all the door! See you on November 2.

Sagamore 7

Anonymous said...

Tsk tsk tsk.......

A lot of well intentioned people who unfortunately won't use the internet to find out how Title 1 funds can be used. Try putting that into your favorite search engine then make suggestions based on your findings. You can't simply give some to all teachers in your school district.

Here's one used found on the internet,

Title 1 federal funding began in 1965 when the Elementary and Secondary Act was passed. Since then, Title 1 has played a major role in funding education. Title 1 was created to allow all students an equal opportunity to receive the highest quality education possible. It was designed to remove factors such low income and poverty. Through Title 1, school districts can hire teachers to lower student-teacher ratio, provide tutoring for struggling students, create school computer labs, fund parent involvement activities, purchase instructional materials, host professional development for teachers, create pre-kindergarten classes, and hire teacher assistants.

DeKalb is obviously using the school wide model in many schools which is probably why AC was purchased. When you look at the number of Title 1 schools in DeKalb, especially those with over 90% free and reduced lunch students, that may explain why a program like this was considered.

Dekalbparent said...

Is there a reason DCSS can't put up the video of a Board meeting online within a day or two of the meeting? Some of us don't have Comcast or cable at all.

Does anybody know if there is a technical reason for a delay?

No Duh said...

" Please tell me you all heard this? And if so- why not represent it fairly on this blog ? If not, make sure you have all info correct before presenting it."

I knew the Miller Grove people would take umbrage to my take on the $120,000 AC contract. I didn't mention that there was no principal when the other schools were deciding(which I heard loud and clear) because I don't think it's germane to my point.

As I understand AC, all the Title I schools are using something (a curriculum?) we renewed last year for several million dollars.
If I understand this individual contract for Miller Grove (yes, I read the whole thing) it provides additional training services and some kind of database access for approximately five members of the MG staff. This opportunity was offered to ALL the principals of Title I schools (before the new MG principal was appointed) and they ALL turned down the opportunity. Hmmm.

Not implying that the new principal and staff or MG are making a mistake, or are trying to waste money. Just questioning the true value of this very expensive AC addendum.

Please read the whole contract. Many hidden costs. Not the least of which is the need to purchase (in addition to the $120,000) student materials.

DCSS has a terrible habit of getting into bed with vendors -- presenting to the BOE a big contract -- and then getting nickeled and dimed to death later.

Sold my soul to the devil for a dime...

Anonymous said...

No Duh is quite correct: "Charter school students ARE "our students." They are public school students..." ICS--and just to pick up an old thread I'd argue ICS is the most diverse school in the county with 40 countries and 15 languages represented--is a PUBLIC school, even if, as a charter, it only gets 80 something cents on the dollar per kid compared to 'regular' schools.

As for suing to get Hooper, well, they'd be suing the same body that grants/renews their charter. Perhaps not a politic move.

Oh, and it's International COMMUNITY School. Given that the vision of ICS is Dr. King's Beloved Community, that matters.

Anonymous said...

Release the report in full, unredacted for public consumption.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb Parent, I can explain the delay in getting the board meeting online within a day or two in two words, Philandrea Guilroy, the daughter of former BOE chair, Francis Edwards, and Manager in charge of PDS-24!

It is also a complete disgrace how DCSS uses their cable access channel, PDS-24.

In regards to your question, all Ms. Guilroy has to do is purchase some very cheap software and a server. You record the proceedings live onto that server and when the meeting is over you develop the file and link it to the website. I am sure there are some editorial decisions made before releasing the video to the public. When Clew was in charge I found that most meetings were edited before being posted online. How's that for transparency?

I sure wish Georgia had some of the same sunshine laws that Florida has. Any public meeting should have a complete web video and transcript within 24 hours of that meeting. With all the technology available today, it would be very easy to accomplish!

Dekalbparent said...

Thanks, Anon 11:54. I have several things I want to discuss with my Board rep regarding transparency and the perception that it isn't there.

There are several things that could be done that would help change the public's perception, and I don't think any of them would be threatening. Posting unedited Board meetings within 24-36 hours would help.

Cerebration said...

Of course, we have Megan's takeaway from the meeting, with her article posted at the AJC titled,

DeKalb votes on SACS response, but won't release to public

Maybe they aren't being as transparent as we had hoped.

The DeKalb County school board voted Tuesday on a tentative response to save its accreditation, but refused to release it to the public. . . .

On Tuesday, the school board voted unanimously in support of a “working draft document” to submit to SACS, and gave interim superintendent Ramona Tyson the authority to finalize the report and submit it by Saturday.

Despite the public vote, Tyson refused to release the document to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution or parents.

“It’s not subject to the Open Records Act because it’s a working document,” Tyson said. “It will be available once it is submitted to SACS.”

The state’s Open Records Act allows government bodies to exempt public disclosure for documents concerning personnel matters, litigation and real estate transaction.

“There is no exemption for drafts or working documents under the Open Records Act,” said Hollie Manheimer, executive director of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

SACS’ president and CEO Mark A. Elgart, along with the school system’s own attorneys, agreed that there is no exemption for draft documents, but said that the law allows them to wait 72 hours to release the document.

The superintendent’s refusal to release the SACS response comes after claims from the board that the process would include public input.

“This process will completely include public transparency and public meetings,” Tyson said on Aug. 6.

Paula Caldarella said...

I do not have a problem with not releasing the document until it is complete and off to SACS. Why should the AJC get the response before the party that requested the response gets it? That makes no sense.

Paula Caldarella said...

Now, here is a school board that "gets it":

Despite the national and state political movements which purport to improve education – movements I think of as being based on the idea that “the beatings will continue until morale improves,” I have come to firmly believe that those of us who know what public education is really about – like those of us in the William Penn School District family – those of us in this room, others who work for the students in the district, the parents, students and community – must adopt and live by our own philosophy, a new approach to how we approach public education and that is: “We are wearing our own Ruby Slippers.”

Of course, where national and state policy and practice make sense we should embrace it; but where it doesn’t make sense -- like funding schemes that ensure apartheid education and community disintegration, the turning of children into data generators, teachers into script readers and test proctors and administrators into Pavlovian competitors for the next race for the money – in those instances, we should and will speak up, point out that the emperor has no clothes and take the rational albeit radical path of resistance.


Anonymous said...

@Dunwoody Mom, I agree that there's no need to release it to the public before it is provided to the agency that requested it. However, that should be the reason Tyson gave - not the exemption to the Open Records Act. Just be honest, Tyson, that's all we're asking.

Anonymous said...

Give Ms. Tyson a break on releasing the draft SACS report. She probably did not know the draft was not exempt to the Open Records Act. Megan got the correct answer from the lawyers. No harm, no foul here since they still have 72 hours to release it.

As someone else said, it should be delivered to SACS prior to releasing it to anyone else. Why release a draft version that is subject to additional changes and put yourself in a position to defend it ( and possibly taking away time for finishing it)? Complete it then everyone can see it.

Cerebration said...

I don't know. This is the law. If there is an Open Records Request for something that is a public document, then by law, the school board must respond (apparently within 72 hours). There is no "if you think it's appropriate" clause. Or, "if you don't feel there's a need" clause. This is one of those slippery slopes. The press exists (in theory) to bring information to the public so that no public work can go on behind closed doors. It's a very basic American premise. If the AJC asks for a copy, Tyson must give them one.

Cerebration said...

plus - If there is a chance that significant revisions were still to be made between last night's approval and Saturday's deadline, then why in the world would the board approve Tyson's request to make those changes herself? I think the draft is just about 99% done - if it's not, and the final submission is significantly different than what the board approved last night, then we have a whole different problem.

Cerebration said...

ps - love love love the quote from the WaPo Dunwoody Mom.

Anonymous said...

if the teachers want to print documents they can go to the old printshop on North Decatur Road. The equipment is still in the shop where the employees left it when they were RIF'D on June 30, 2009. Brand new state of the art presses not even 3 years old signed and approved by the same BOE who signed off on their reduction in force...go figure....how's that Lewis/Pope decision making working out for everyone in the DCSS.

Maybe they should have listened to Mr. Crowe (former printshop supervisor) when he made the plea to the BOE at one of the meetings April 2009. He told the BOE that it would cost more to have work outsourced but I guess he had not clue about printing cost but Lewis and Pope does...you think they have time to help the county with getting the teachers reimbursed for having copies done at kinkos...ooh my bad Pope and Lewis are spending their dollars on attorney fees.......and Markus Turk...please think before you speak next time...you were really out of touch with reality last night at the meeting.

No Duh said...

Last night was the first time I've been to the palace to see that incredibly tall dias.

I kept waiting for Zeus and Hera to pop up!!

Anonymous said...

I was happy to see the cooperation last night of school board members. This is the first time I felt like board members were possible working together. I still noticed a little tension regarding concern over total costs of Lakeside High School. I could sense concern that Lakeside might get something other schools might not have gotten from Sara Woods. She always tries to make sure her schools get their 130% of the pot. It would be nice if decisions could just be made on needs of the schools instead of worrying about making sure everything is equal regarding Sara's district.

Anonymous said...

In this discussion of Title I Schools.

There were several Title I Schools that failed to make AYP. Can any one name 3 Title I Schools with the most consecutive years making AYP. It seems to me that if Beasley or others in the Title I Department would asked those principals what they were doing to be so successful. Then use funds to support or duplicate this in other schools that were unsuccessful.

Anonymous said...

I know that Hightower Elementary School is a Title I School and has made AYP 11 or 12 consecutive years. They have good leadership and great teachers. Beasley could start there.

Title I is run by the Office of School Improvement. Im not sure why they have not reached out to the Title I Schools that have been so successful.

If you ran a business with 4 district managers and one district manager production doubled the amount of the others with consistency, then as a CEO, you would try to find out what that person was doing in order to duplicate it. "Common Sense Beasley"

Anonymous said...

They work together well pretty often and the problem is almost never the entire board, but rather it is between certain board members. Of course, as of late is has seemed like it is Sara vs everyone or Zepora vs everyone.

Hightower has made AYP for 11 consequitive years, Oakcliff for 10, and Idlewood for 10.

Here is the complete list of High poverty schools that are distinguished.


As an aside, Hightower was/is an America's Choice school and I know that when the money went away for the program the principal was sad to lose it.

Anonymous said...

How can a school make AYP for 10 years? No Child Left behind was not passed by Congress and signed by the President until 2002, am I wrong?
Bush was inaugurated in 2001, and the bill took a year to write and get passed.

Anonymous said...

On January 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

You are correct! The first year that a school could have made AYP was following the 2002-2003 school year.

Anonymous said...

I think Title 1 schools were already being judged somehow. NCLB took those standards, maybe changed them, and then applied them to all schools and states.

I think back then it was an incentive program rather than the punitive program it has become. If you check the link, you will see that the schools were getting a little money from Title 1 for being distinguished. The longer the school has been distinguished the more money.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll accept that. I do remember that the term AYP did not start until after the 2002-2003 school year.

When our school made it 5 years in a row, someone on our PTA insisted we had made it 7 and changed the banner. Needless to say, we were educated quickly by the principal about NCLB and AYP. We had to make a new banner with 5. After that our principal was in charge of making any award banners for our school.

Anonymous said...

According to the Georgia Department of Education, Hightower made AYP this school year; therefore, that is 12 consecutive years. Oakliff has 11 consecutive years, and Kelley Lake 10 consecutive years. According to the website Idlewood did not make AYP in 2010, so far. They are still awaiting summer school scores.

Anonymous said...

AYP Report can be found on the Georgia Department of Education Webstite. Select read 2010 Adequate Yearly Progress. Select view 2010 AYP report. Select DeKalb County. Then you can visit each school to determine thier AYP status for 2010. I think there are 26 Elementary Schools that did not make AYP.

Anonymous said...

Transparency: Post all transactions on line -- all checks, all purchases, all p-card transactions, everything!!! Starting today!

Anonymous said...

Some schools started out on the needs improvement list. Some DeKalb schools participated in the "test run" for CRCT. The state was still looking at the test to be sure that it was fair and gave accurate results. Schools were told that the scores wouldn't count and that it was a chance to see how our kids would do on this type of test. This was supposed to be a no penalty situation. When NCLB was passed, the state used those scores to place schools on the needs improvement list.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that Hightower makes AYP, yet when those students move up to Peachtree MS that they don't succeed there? If you read the breakdown of students that passed their tests and those that didn't (ultimately the reason that Peachtree MS DOESN'T make AYP) it's always the kids who speak English as a second language and those that are "economically disadvantaged". In the Dunwoody cluster, that's the kids from Hightower ES.

What's up? AYP in ES, then fail in MS? Something is wrong. AYP is not an end unto itself and that's the proof.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:53, Most elementary schools do not have enough students in a given subgroup to qualify for measurement for AYP purposes. When the elementary schools merge together into 1 feeder middle school, the number of students in a particular subgroup becomes large enough to be a measurable group. It doesn't necessarily mean the middle school is less good than the elementary school - it just means they have a large enough subgroup to be evaluated.

Anonymous said...

Excellent report on the meeting.
Thanks from all the readers of this blog.

I don't trust the board or any bozo looking for a "Family and Friends promotion". Believe they
are plotting.

I overheard a conversation today about how this specialist bozo is trying to work herself into a higher paying job. The rationale for promotion was, "well I'm sitting in the vacated director office." What an idiot! This person actually thinks because "IT" sits in an empty office of someone that was much higher up, a promotion opportunity applies.....

DCSS has not learned, they are just trying to hide by slowing down the theft and lies.

I say, audit down to the bozo level.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:53 PM

In many metro schools, the Hispanic community is very mobile, so the students that don't pass the CRCT at Peachtree may be new to the area. It is also my understanding that the vocabulary required in middle school really ratchets up.

Paula Caldarella said...

re: Hightower. This goes to a long-held contention many have held that Title 1 funds should follow the student and not the school. If those children needed the extra assistance that Title 1 can provide in ES, then all of a sudden if they attend a non-Title 1 MS or HS they don't need that help?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom is right on the money her point. Students at Hightower get a lot of support from those Title 1 dollars and then they are placed in a non-title 1 middle school which lacks the resources to provide all the similar supports.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 12:45 PM

The fact that Megan Matteucci got her information about the Open Records Act and Tyson did not is no excuse.

I would remind you of how much money DCSS is paying to multiple attorneys. Surely Tyson could have asked one of them to clarify the requirements of the Open Records Act.

Or, she could have gone to Ronald Ramsey whose State Senate bio lists his current occupation as attorney (no mention of his full-time job with DCSS).

Anonymous said...

Why did the School System lay off staff and then employed temporary workers to do the job? This is not fair to the people who were laid off.

Cerebration said...

I'll cut Tyson slack on the Open Records. I think she has been just so overwhelmed with trying to get the responses done, on top of everything else -- it must be incredibly stressful. I hope she will try to pull her attorneys closer to her. And we can see how bad it's been not having a go-to spokesperson.

Anonymous said...

Cere, I'll cut her some slack as well. However, she only gave teachers and parents 48 hours to comment or weigh in on the 4 policies they were changing. I'm more upset that they introduced this policy review on August 9th, yet waited until August 19th to ask for public input. She is in over her head, no doubt!

In regards to a spokesperson being paid instead of a staffer. The former spokesperson for Clew was, Dale Davis, he was in way over his head, but was very close to Clew. I'm personally happy to see him gone. Though, I wish Ms. Tyson had hired a full timer to take his place.

Anonymous said...

HMMM I am not sure about Tyson. She is under the spot light and doing what anyone would in her place. She was a buddy to Supt. Lewis so I don't trust any of them. Zepora needs to take a seat. She has always been out of order. We need a strong board that will not continue to be puppet on the string. Beasley, is off his rocker. Teacher morale is down and getting worse as the day go by. We need a strong new Supt. in place. It should not be anyone we know. If you ask me it should be a white person, because our people ran it like a black mafia.

Anonymous said...

Tyson, stay off of this site tooting your own horn. It is time for you to go too!

Anonymous said...

Some good news, I heard teachers are getting new dell computers.
All schools are scheduled during
the next few months.

Anonymous said...

Listening to Copelin-Wood. What an ignorannt person. Does the woman even have a 7th grade education? All of these uneducated people need to be ousted because they can't have a civil discourse it seems. her and Zepora are allies because they are of the same ilk.

Anonymous said...

Great News,
Finally something teachers can cheer about. Please read email sent to schools today.

Greetings Principals and Assistant Principals,

Effective immediately, please discontinue with the current administration of the benchmark process. I have determined that we will utilize an end-of-semester benchmark administration. This decision was made after much consideration of the many challenges that continue to arise related to the current process. Additionally, the end-of-semester data should yield more valid and reliable data in that teachers and instructional coaches will not be consistently distracted from the teaching and learning process. Please discontinue all scanning and administering of district-wide benchmarks immediately. All district benchmarks will be administered at the end of each semester. The end-of-semester benchmarks will be aligned to our pacing guides and numerically aligned with the CRCT/GHSGT/EOCT. I do hope this decision is supported by all in that we believe it is the right thing to do as we focus on teaching and learning. Please share this message with all teachers and instructional coaches.


Dr. Beasley

Dr. Morcease J. Beasley
Interim Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
Department of Teaching and Learning
O) 678-676-0731
F) 678-676-0759
Email) Morcease_J_Beasley@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Setting the Standard for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Robert G. Moseley
Deputy Chief Superintendent for School Operations
DeKalb School System
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

678-676-0193 FAX

Anonymous said...

That is very good news for teachers and students. I guess they realized the technology was not working the way it was supposed to. Maybe Dr. Beasley reads this blog.